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Fresh start: take a new look at New Zealand wine

Fri 04 Feb 2011 13:48


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New Zealand is well known for its Sauvignon Blanc wine, but there is much more to the country that just that, according to wine connoisseur Tom Cannavan.

This week the expert has been looking into the other wine varieties coming out of the country, which are often overlooked because of the huge popularity of Sauvignon Blanc.

Although the first vines of the modern era were only planted in New Zealand 30 years ago, the Sauvignon Blanc wines from the beautiful Marlborough region of the South Island took the wine world by storm.

The punchy flavours of the tipple has firmly secured the wine as one of Britain’s favourites – but the country also produces other top-notch white wine too, from Chardonnay to Riesling, and from Viognier to Pinot Blanc.

After searching the best of what's out there, Tom Cannavan has selected his top three New Zealand non-Sauvignon Blanc wines:

1. Wither Hills Chardonnay 2009, New Zealand, priced at £9.49 from Waitrose
Whisper it, but there are some people who believe Chardonnay from New Zealand can be even better than Sauvignon, and there is plenty of it about it you look for it.

This example comes from Marlborough, the home of Sauvignon, and although this one has a touch of butterscotch from ageing in oak barrels, it is all about the clean, mouth-watering style that Marlborough does so well.

Lovely tasting cues of toffee, limes and lemons make this wine an ideal match for most fish and seafood, as well as roast chicken.

2. Escarpment The Edge Pinot Gris 2009, New Zealand, £9.41 from the Great Grog Co.
From Larry McKenna, one of the most experienced and respected figures of NZ wine, this Pinot Gris (the same grape as Italy’s Pinot Grigio) has lovely hints of toffee and cream on the nose, gently herbal notes as well as focused orange and lemon fruit.

The palate has delightfully silky texture, and delicious sweetness. This one is from the Martinborough region of the North Island.

Flavours of herbs and oranges mean this wine is ideal served alongside pork dishes, particularly fillet which has been cooked in a creamy, mustardy sauce.

3. Milton Vineyard, Viognier 2009, New Zealand, £11.75 at
This is another North Island wine (from Gisborne) and grown in a biodynamic vineyard (biodynamics is a fast-growing but controversial method of extreme organic farming, where all actions are done strictly according to phases of the moon).

It is lusciously honeyed and peachy, with a touch of toffee and savoury honeysuckle character. On the palate it floods across the tongue into a long, nutty finish.

Tastes of nuts and peaches make this perfect with pasta with pesto and parmesan.


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